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Pete Worden leading $100 million interstellar spacecraft tech effort

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner (left) was joined by Stephen Hawking and an expert panel that included Pete Worden (far right) i announcing Project Starshot. Credit: Starshot video grab

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a $100 million project to develop interstellar spacecraft technology.

Milner’s Breakthrough Starshot project will work on technology that would allow chip-sized spacecraft to be accelerated by laser light sails and travel at up to 20 percent the speed of light.

Such a spacecraft could travel to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, in about two decades.

Pete Worden, former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, will lead the program, with an advisory board that includes Milner, physicist Stephen Hawking and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. [Scientific American]


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Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) formally introduced his comprehensive space policy bill Tuesday. The American Space Renaissance Act includes a wide range of policy provisions for military, civil and commercial space. Bridenstine, in a speech at the 32nd Space Symposium, said the bill is needed to maintain U.S. leadership in space in response to growing threats. He acknowledged that the bill is unlikely to pass in its present form, but that provisions could be incorporated into other bills. [SpaceNews]

A top Pentagon official said a new space operations center was the result of a change in thinking about space. In an interview en route to the 32nd Space Symposium, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said that the Defense Department no longer considers space to be a “sanctuary” but instead assumes “our space constellation will be under threat from the earliest moment.” That led to the development of the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center to conduct experiments regarding threats to satellites, in some cases involving actual satellites. [SpaceNews]

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Raytheon says its next-generation GPS ground control system has passed a key early test. The GPS Operational Control Segment (OCX) passed its first formal qualification test last month, the company announced Tuesday. OCX has suffered cost and schedule issues that could require the U.S. Air Force to use older systems for the first GPS 3 satellites, limiting the ability to take advantage of the satellites’ new capabilities. [SpaceNews]

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Don’t Fly Me To The Moon

“I looked at this, and it was expensive. It was like $200 million or something. And I said, ‘Yeah, but has it ever been tested?’ They said, ‘No.’ And I said, ‘Well, isn’t that a little risky?’ They said, ‘Well, for $400 million we’ll test it for you.’ Maybe I’ll wait on that one.”

– Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, describing in an on-stage interview at the 32nd Space Symposium Tuesday how he was pitched an opportunity to take a circumlunar flight on a Soyuz spacecraft.

SpaceNews.com

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Pete Worden leading $100 million interstellar spacecraft tech effort

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